FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 21, 2020
Contact: Andrew Donnelly, 302-893-4406
Blunt Rochester Statement on Passage of COVID-19 Relief & Omnibus Appropriations Package
WASHINGTON - Today, Congress passed a third comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill along with an omnibus appropriations package to provide relief to the American people. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) issued the following statement.
“I’m pleased that Congressional leadership has reached an agreement on a coronavirus relief package which includes critical wins for Delaware, from funding for testing and vaccine distribution, relief for small businesses, and appropriations for broadband infrastructure. I’m also pleased this bill includes direct payments, a policy I introduced with my Republican colleague Rep. McKinley of West Virginia. While this bill provides $600 per individual, as opposed to the $1,000 we proposed, the American people need relief and need it now. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, this bill will provide direct financial relief for 636,600 Delaware adults and 232,000 Delaware children, representing an injection of over $450 million to Delaware families with an average household check of over $1,000. Let me also be clear that while this bill is necessary, it is not sufficient to meet the full needs of our constituents. It is also my belief that our state and local partners need direct investment from the federal government to continue their efforts to combat the ravages of this pandemic. While there weren’t new funds allocated, I am pleased that we have extended the deadline to utilize the CARES Act funding for another year.”
“This relief package isn’t perfect - no bill of its size and scope is - but it is necessary and can help serve as a bridge between now and the Biden-Harris Administration. I will also note that I share Delawareans’ frustration with how long it took to reach this agreement. It is unacceptable that the consideration and passage of another relief package took nearly eight months. This cannot and should not be Congress’ final act when it comes to COVID relief. The American people are hurting - and while the initial distribution of the vaccine represents hope on the horizon and light at the end of the tunnel - we are not out of the woods yet. In the meantime, I’ll continue fighting to provide direct relief to families and small businesses and to get the resources we need to defeat this virus and build back better.”
The COVID relief and omnibus package:
- Provides Immediate Economic Relief by authorizing a second-round of $166 billion of direct payments at $600 for all individuals making up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, with an additional $600 per qualifying child. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 636,600 Delaware adults and 232,000 Delaware children would benefit from direct payments with an average household receiving over $1,000.
- Extends federal unemployment benefits of $120 billion for an additional 11 weeks, and provides another $300 per week for all unemployment insurance beneficiaries.
- Expands financial assistance to small businesses by providing $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through March 31, 2021, including a dedicated $15 billion set-aside for lending through community financial institutions, including Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions to increase access to financial relief for minority-owned and other underbanked small businesses and nonprofits, and creates a set-aside for very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and for small businesses located in distressed areas.
- Provides enhanced relief to some of our hardest-hit businesses by expanding PPP loan amounts for small businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries, and provides $15 billion for shuttered venue operators that have experienced significant revenue loss, such as live venues, theaters, museums, and zoos.
- Supports renters through $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium for a month.
- Extends the availability of state and local aid by one year (until Dec. 31, 2021) for funds provided to states and localities in the CARES Act, giving states more time to properly administer and utilize these funds.
- Expands critical broadband services by including provisions co-lead by Rep. Blunt Rochester to provide $3.2 billion to Americans in greatest need, provides $285 million in grants to HBCUs and MSIs to help students bridge the digital divide, establishes the Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives, and provides important funding to enhance the efficiency and security of broadband services in the United States.
- Combats the coronavirus pandemic by providing $22 billion for testing, contact tracing, and surveillance, including $2.5 billion for high risk and underserved populations.
- Tackles national vaccine distribution by providing $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution, administration, planning, preparation, promotion, monitoring, and tracking. Includes a $300 million targeted investment for communities of color and rural areas
- Ensures critical health infrastructure is funded through a three-year reauthorization of Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and other critical public health programs, and permanently expanding Medicare’s coverage of mental health telehealth services.
- Provides pathways to better schools, with $16.5 billion for Education for the Disadvantaged Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $227 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, and $12.9 billion for IDEA Special Education Grants to States, an increase of $173 million above the FY 2020 enacted level.
- Expands access to housing by - for the first time - providing $43.4 million in new targeted vouchers to reduce homelessness among families with children, individuals, the unsheltered, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence.
- Tackles food insecurity, with robust investments in WIC, child nutrition programs, and SNAP.
- Combats the gun violence epidemic, with $25 million split evenly for federal research at the CDC and NIH into our nation’s gun violence epidemic.
- Protects our environment by including $9.24 billion, a $180 million increase, for the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure clean air and water and to hold polluters accountable. This funding level is the highest in ten years, and the second highest level of all time.
- Combats climate change, with $7.026 billion for DOE’s Office of Science to support energy innovation of the future; $2.86 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and $427 million for ARPA-E to support the development of clean, affordable, and secure energy; and $367.7 million for a reliable, resilient electric grid.
- Reverses harmful Trump Administration cuts to climate change programs by providing $2 billion for NASA Earth Science, including climate observing programs, an increase of $28.2 million above FY 2020, as well as $182 million for NOAA Climate Research, $12.5 million above FY 2020.
- Expands access for rural communities, with more than $730 million in the expansion of broadband service to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services.
- Keeps our communities safe by providing $3.3 billion for state and local preparedness grants, training and exercises, an increase of $131.4 million above the fiscal year 2020 level, including: $180 million for non-profit security grants, an increase of $90 million above the fiscal year 2020 level.
- Supports servicemembers and military families with funding above the President’s budget request for programs directly impacting the quality of life for servicemembers, their families, and military communities, and by fully funding the 3.0 percent military pay raise.
- Honors our responsibilities to veterans, providing $90 billion for VA medical care, including funding to provide homelessness assistance, suicide prevention and outreach, and gender-specific care.